Charles County Sheriff's Office News Briefs

Charles County Sheriff’s Office, Bike Doctor, Gear Up for Christmas Bicycle Giveaway

This Christmas, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office and Bike Doctor want 50 specially-selected children to have a very special gift under the tree: a bicycle.

Each year, the Sheriff’s Office raises money to purchase new bicycles from Bike Doctor, whose employees order and assemble the bicycles at no cost to the Sheriff’s Office. A few days before Christmas, community policing officers deliver the bicycles and a new helmet to the unsuspecting children — or to parents who want to keep the surprise a secret until Christmas morning.

This year, the recipients will be selected based on nominations submitted by community members to their community policing officer or their child’s school resource officer.


Charles County Detective Named Deputy of the Year

Charles County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Detective Charles Baker was recognized as a Maryland Sheriff’s Association’s Deputy of the Year at a banquet held in Ocean City in October.Charles County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Detective Charles Baker was recognized as a Maryland Sheriff’s Association’s Deputy of the Year at a banquet held in Ocean City in October.

Det. Baker was honored in the crime prevention category for his role in reducing auto theft in Charles County by 35 percent and by implementing a bait car program.

In late 2004, Det. Baker proposed the idea of acquiring a bait car to help combat the auto theft problem in Charles County. Throughout 2005 and 2006, Det. Baker pursued this goal, conducting research, attending training, negotiating with insurance companies for the donation of a vehicle and researching the systems available. In June 2006, the bait vehicle was delivered. Det. Baker prepared and conducted the agency training necessary to implement the program.

“Det. Baker’s innovation and dedicated pursuit of implementing the bait car program reflects his commitment to ensuring the safety of the citizens of Charles County,” said Sheriff Rex Coffey. “Despite his tireless efforts during this project, he still managed to maintain his normal case load. Such dedication to public safety is truly commendable.”


Charles County Sheriff’s Office Honors Retirees, Award Recipients, at Annual Banquet

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office honored 21 retirees and 32 award recipients at a banquet held Oct. 19 at the Waldorf Jaycees Community Center.

Senator Benjamin Cardin’s Southern Maryland representative Hammad Matin, a former Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney, served as master of ceremonies. Keith Clark, an instructor at the Interagency Training Center, a federal education center in the Washington, D.C., area was the banquet’s guest speaker. Local recording artist Austin Rick sang the National Anthem. Sheriff Rex Coffey, Commissioners Edith Patterson and Reuben Collins and Charles County Circuit Court Clerk Sharon Hancock also shared remarks with the award recipients, retirees and guests. Dr. Steve Davis, a Sheriff’s Office chaplain, delivered the invocation and benediction.

The following retirees were honored for their years of service: Major Michael O’Toole for 35 years of service; Deputy Director Walter Poynor for 26 years of service; Captain G. Gale Willett for 37 years of service; Captain Dennis Burks for 26 years of service; Captain R. David Williams for 25 years of service; Captain John McConnell for 26 years of service; Captain William Brown for 25 years of service; Captain F. Michael Wyant for 25 years of service; Captain Timothy Plumer for 24 years of service; Captain Brian Eley for 21 years of service; Captain Thomas Reece for 22 years of service; Captain Albert Masri for 26 years of service; Corporal Martin Thorp for 26 years of service; Corporal Gerry Wilkinson for 23 years of service; Corporal Jonathan Kalin for 20 years of service; PFC John Davey for eight years of service; Court Security Officer Joseph Kozlowski for 11 years of service; Retired Major Ross Pitrelli for 11 years of service as a civilian; Retired Captain Charles L. Thompson for 13 years of service as a civilian; Marion Williams-Dundas for 11 years of service and Betty Hayden for nine years of service. Retirees received a bronze deputy statue and a special badge designed to commemorate next year’s 350th anniversary of the establishment of Charles County and the Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to recognizing retirees, medals of valor, meritorious awards, Sheriff’s awards and certificates of commendation were presented at the banquet.

Officer Clint Walker received a gold medal of valor for taking quick and heroic action to save his life and the lives of two other officers when a gunman violently resisted arrest and fired upon the three officers.

Cpl. Wendell Wathen received a silver medal of valor for disregarding his own safety and well-being by entering a burning building to save the life of a man who had fallen near the building’s entrance while attempting to escape the heavy smoke and flames.

Retired Captain William Saunders and Benjamin Stoddert Middle School Vice Principal Sue DelaCruz received silver medals of valor for unhesitatingly entering a lake on a cold December day to save a child and her mother, whose SUV had veered off the roadway into the middle of the lake and began to submerge.

Officer William Halt received a silver medal of valor for entering a burning mobile home to remove debris blocking officers’ efforts to save an unconscious child trapped inside. Others involved in the child’s rescue including Sgt. John Shoemaker, Cpl. Jason Hopkins, PFC William Christian and local resident Michael Myerly received bronze medals of valor for their role in helping to save the child’s life.

Correctional officers Eric Keys, Stephen Riffle, Anthony Rubolotta and Justin Lloyd received meritorious awards for their prompt and unhesitating response after discovering an inmate at the Charles County Detention Center who had attempted suicide by hanging. Their efforts saved the inmate’s life.

Cpl. Scott Fetterolf received a meritorious award for reorganizing the sex offender registry program, identifying and implementing new procedures and researching and writing new policy. The Sheriff’s Office’s sex offender registry program is now a model for many other jurisdictions in Maryland.

Cpl. Charles Baker received a meritorious award for proposing the idea of acquiring a bait car to combat auto theft in Charles County. He conducted research, negotiated with insurance companies for the donation of a vehicle and prepared training programs while managing his normal caseload. His efforts were instrumental in reducing auto thefts in Charles County by 35 percent.

Officer Robert Gottschall received a meritorious award for performing the Heimlich maneuver and ultimately saving the life of a fellow officer who choked on a piece of food and as a result was unable to speak or breathe.

Officer Daniel Raby received a meritorious award for his alertness and keen observation skills when, though extremely heavy fog, he discovered a vehicle embedded in the brick structure of a church. The driver and sole occupant was in very serious condition but Officer Raby’s immediate action resulted in the victim’s survival.

Sergeants Jeff Bryant and Patricia Garino and officers John Freeman, John Hastings, Michael Kennedy and Terrell Hemsley received certificates of commendation for their response to an armed bank robbery. Their efforts resulted in the ultimate apprehension of the fleeing suspects after the suspect vehicle crashed in Prince George’s County. Two citizens, Ken Thompson and John Smith, assisted in the suspect’s apprehension.

Cpl. Charles Baker and officers David Gross and Andrew Schwab received certificates for identifying and arresting the suspect responsible for stealing approximately $30,000 worth of tools as well as other materials and large appliances. Their success was the result of many hours of surveillance and investigation.

Sgt. August Proctor received a certificate of commendation for applying the experience he gained during a lengthy Narcotics Enforcement Section assignment to his new assignment in the Community Policing Unit. He shared his knowledge with other members of community policing and helped them serve numerous search warrants, make arrests and recover large amounts of drugs, stolen property and weapons.

Detective Christopher Shankster received a certificate of commendation for demonstrating tenacity, attention to detail and excellent investigative skills during a homicide investigation. The investigation involved one deceased victim, one surviving victim and six suspects who were arrested after an intensive search that involved the U.S. Marshals Service and the Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C., Metropolitan police departments. The six accused were successfully prosecuted.

Sgt. Jason Stoddard received a certificate of commendation for his response to a burglary in progress call in which he observed and stopped the suspect vehicle, identified its occupants as the suspects in the burglary and eventually determined they had been involved in a spree of other crimes that had plagued Charles County and several other counties in Maryland.

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